Democrats’ panic time? Odds increase that Republicans will win Senate

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For months, as pundits suggested the Senate was poised to be taken over by the Republicans in 2014, some Democrats suggested there really was no need to panic. Now it sounds as if Democrats feel it’s time to panic: it’s sinking in that Tuesday night’s election results suggest Democrats can’t rely this year on madcap Republican candidates to chase voters to them or on President Barack Obama’s popularity or help.

It you hear a click, it’s probably the sound of Democrats pushing panic buttons:

Republicans are in the strongest position to win back the Senate since losing it eight years ago.

Over several months, the party has expanded its range of targeted seats, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has helped defeat insurgents it didn’t want representing the GOP in the midterm elections.

This sober realization came to Democrats on Wednesday, as Tuesday night’s primary results showed they cannot count on Tea Party candidates upsetting more-electable incumbents.

Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin may be angry over the election results and say their party has betrayed them due to events in Mississippi and The Establishment Fighting Back (which would make a great movie title) but the proof of the political pudding is the Democrat’s reaction:

And Democrats are increasingly realizing that President Obama’s approval rating will probably remain mired at 45 percent or lower until Election Day, giving Republicans ammo.

As their difficulties mounted, Senate Democrats met with the president at the White House on Wednesday evening.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.), perhaps the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, said she would confront Obama over his failure to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline and expand natural gas exports.

“I personally don’t agree with this White House on everything,” she said. “I have a divergent view on a lot of the energy policies.”

Earlier this week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), another red-state Democrat, vented her irritation with the administration when she called IRS Commissioner John Koskinen “arrogant.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and other Democrats criticized Obama’s recent decision to release five senior Taliban commanders from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. She is ready to put that dispute into the past, she said Wednesday, adding that Obama made the right move in inviting his colleagues to the White House for talk and cocktails.

“It’s all ancient history now,” she said peaceably, adding, “I think this is a positive thing to do.”

But a Democratic strategist said: “There’s going to be a lot of vocal anger and frustration. They’re going to hear a lot of, ‘You guys [have] got to have your house in order.’”

Details of Wednesday’s discussion were not available at press time.

But it is clear Democrats are nervous.

And there are few signs the economy will help them out:

The United States economy contracted by a shocking 2.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, a much worse than expected number that could undermine hopes by the White House and congressional Democrats to run on improving conditions in the fall midterm elections.

The number is a snap shot of the past and in part the result of a terrible winter slowing down everything from home construction to personal shopping to business inventory growth. The second quarter should be significantly better.

But negative headlines around the contraction – the worst since the Great Recession ended in 2009 – are likely to worsen already deeply negative national attitudes about the economy that have decimated President Barack Obama’s approval rating and led to Democratic fears of big losses in the House and Senate in November.

Numbers this bad can also have a psychological impact on consumer behavior. If people think the economy is getting worse they can pull back on hiring and spending which in turn actually makes the economy worse.

Which means worse heading into election day.

This election year Democrats can’t rely on Tea Party candidates who deny they’re witches or Republicans up for re-election seemingly in a race to show how little they know about or even care about rape or how much they can profoundly offend women.

On the other hand, the political season is still young.

Graphic via shutterstock.com

         

13 Comments

  1. I think people are underestimating the possibility that the Republicans will self destruct. Even if they don’t their control of the Senate will be a short 2 year window.

  2. If the GOP gets the Senate, I have a feeling that Obama’s “Veto” stamp is going to worn down to the nub by 2016.

    But yea, I’m still holding out hope that the GOP self destructs somehow. The main party shot callers and big wigs are largely comprised of 3rd grade intellectuals with tendencies of racial and sexist overtones. Lord knows the Democrats aren’t going to be making their case on their own. They NEED the GOP to do it for them. So sad.

  3. It still comes down to the advantages of incumbency. Democrats will definitely lose a number of seats in red states but they just need one more incumbent to manage to hold on than current projections count on. There also is the chance that McConnell could be beat due to even Republicans opposing Republican Congressional leadership. Republicans have a real chance to take the Senate, but panic is not the answer.

  4. I for one don’t wish the Reps to take over the Senate, that would give them a further incentive to cause harm or further obstruct.
    Because of the present political environment, I would like to see a more evenly balanced government, since neither side can be trusted to do what’s best for the country

  5. First off nobody really controls the Senate now and nobody will control it in 2015.

    With the power of filibuster/etc control is often in name only and while I am sure partisans on both sides will contend their guys and gals never did that the fact is both sides use it to their benefit. The GOP has definitely abused it the past few years (part of the reason I left them) but both sides do it.

    And in many ways that was the intent of the founders. Perhaps not to the extent it is used today but the Senate was supposed to be the deliberative body that “cooled the tea” as Washington put it.

    Having said that I still think GOP odds on takeover are no better than 50/50.

    States that look vulnerable like Louisiana and Arkansas may turn out to be much harder than the GOP thinks and there is always an upset or two nobody saw coming (and given the playing field such an upset is more likely to be with a GOP seat)

  6. The country has about had it with radicals on the right just as it had it a few years ago with radicals on the left. The people like the government to go along smoothly and not interfere in their lives very much.

    The recent meddling in people’s cultural choices and voting rights are definitely not appreciated. I wouldn’t be surprised by a terrific dumping of incumbents of both parties. Where that will end up as far as the Senate is hard to tell. I would think even the House is in for a shakeup. If not 2014, certainly 2016.

  7. What radicals on the left a few years ago T_O ? A few generally means 3 but I’ll go 6 if you want.

    As for the Reps winning the senate…it is possible if the Dems don’t get out and vote. Then again, all that voter ID crap in many states that the Republicans need to get elected just may work for them.

  8. When you’re 76 (like me) a few years is probably different from a 16 or 26 or 46-year-old. :-)

    Current left wing radicals? See daily kos.

    I wouldn’t predict anything this year. We could end up with a 50-50 Senate and House, or a 30/70 in either branch in either party’s favor. The times they are a changing.

  9. I doubt the intent of the founders included an electorate so incapable of critical thought it would put people in congress who made the half the country and the rest of the world shake their heads in wonder at such a bounty of stupidity. That said, we get the govt we deserve… half of us do anyway. ;-)

  10. If I have learned anything about politics it is the winds of change, change directions often. My guess is that the odds will move up and down more than the balance in my bank account… and I get paid weekly(but for some reason my overall balance never seems to grow). There is no telling where we will be this fall.

  11. Comment

    Current left wing radicals? See daily kos.

    Last I checked those at Daily Kos are not elected officials, or even major political power brokers. The same can not be said of the radicals on the Right.

  12. If you are looking for left wing radicals, there are sites which are a lot more radical than Daily Kos. Of course those on the extreme left have no influence on the Democratic Party while the extreme right sets the agenda for the Republican Party.

  13. It’s been panic time for months imho. Republicans need a net gain of 6 seats to overcome the 50-50 tie. If Kentucky and Georgia stay red which Nate Silver gives over 70% chance that they will, then they need to flip 6 seats. South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana are all over 85% chance they will flip. That leaves 3 out of the list of Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado and Iowa that are defended by democrats. Dems must hold 4 of those 6 to retain the senate. If they hold only 3, Republicans regain the senate. Louisiana and Arkansas are 55% likely to flip red while Iowa and Colorado 60% likely to stay blue. That means that Democrats have to hold BOTH Alaska and North Carolina. Both are 50-50 shots at present. Currently Begich (D) has a +8 lead in one poll, -4 in another in Alaska. In North Carolina, Hagan (D) has a slim +3 within margin of error lead.

    Holding both Alaska and North Carolina is going to be HARD!

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